I put this in for a contest over at The Rejectionist's, but thought I'd put it up here, too. Because, hell, it was fun to write and this is the Halloween season. Which lasts two weeks. Nobody tell me otherwise. Yes, I have free rein to eat chocolate for that period. It's Halloween. Oh, and props to my collaborator on this one, Dr. Seuss. Kind of a nutty fellow, but fun to work with.
How the Literary Agent Killed Zombies
Every Ghoul down in Boo-ville likes Zombies a lot…
But the Steve, who lived just North of Boo-ville, did not!
The Steve hated zombies! The whole zombie season!
Now please… ask us why, we quite know the reason.
It seems there was once a query quite right
But the novel itself was a disappointment, all right!
The Zombies had pompadours just a little too small
And heaped zombie adjectives up like a wall!
Yes, that was the reason he barfed on his tools!
And so he sat there a-reading and hating the Ghouls
Staring down from his office with a sour, Stevie frown
At the orange-lighted windows below in their town
For he knew every ghoul down in Boo-ville beneath
Was busy, just now, hanging a black, glossy wreath
"And they're plotting their sequels," he snarled through his beer
"Tomorrow they'll query, it's practically here!"
Then he growled, his red pencil nervously drumming.
"I must find a way to keep queries from coming!"
For tomorrow, he knew, all the ghoul girls and boys
Would start typing away on their bright Macintosh toys
And then they'd do something he liked least of all
The ghouls down in Boo-ville, the tall and the small,
Would all gather 'round for group therapy writing!
And yes, in each story, there would be zombie chaps biting!
Then he got an idea, an awful idea!
The Steve got a wonderful, awful idea!
"I know just what to do," the Steve laughed in his throat
And he made a quick skeleton skull and a boat
"All I need is a paddle…" The Steve looked around,
But since paddles are scarce there were none to be found.
Did that stop the old Steve? No! The Steve simply said
"If I can't find a paddle, I'll make one instead."
His assistant, a fox, he wrapped in black thread
And he tied a big board on top of her head.
Then he pulled on a black cloak, peered at his clock
Fetched up his assistant and pushed off from the dock
Then the Steve said "Ahoy!" and the boat started down
Toward the homes where the Ghouls lay a-snooze in their town
All the homes were dark, quiet groans filled the air
As the Ghouls were all dreaming dead dreams without flair
"This is stop number one," the old skeleton hissed
And he climbed to the roof, red pen in his fist
Then he slid down the chimney, like an arm through a sleeve
If Santa could do it, then so could the Steve
He never got stuck, not for a moment or three
(There was little to him but some old bones and one flea)
And the little Ghoul keyboards all sat in a row
"Those keyboards"," he grinned, "are the first things to go."
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile almost daft
Around the whole room, and he took every draft!
Zombies! And Vampires! Apocalypse drums!
Werewolves! And Chick Lit! Articulate bums!
Then he slunk to the cabinet. He took the plot feast!
He took the chapter titles and giant squid beast!
He cleaned out that cabinet as quick as a flash
Why, that Steve even took the last can of Ghoul-Rash!
Steve snatched up the drafts, and he started to slash
When he heard a small sound like the kiss of a lash
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Ghoul
Little Cindy-Lou Ghoul, who was eating a stool!
The Steve had been caught by this little Ghoul hood
Who'd got out of bed for a bite of cool wood
She stared at the Steve and said "Skeleton, why?
Why are you cutting our manuscripts? Why?"
But you know that old Steve, he was so smart and so slick,
He thought up a lie and he thought it up quick
"Why, my sweet little rot," the fake skeleton lied,
"There's a verb in this draft that I just can't let slide.
So I'm taking it home to my study, my dear,
I'll edit it there, and then I'll bring it back here."
And his fib fooled the child. He patted her head
Then got her a drink and sent her to bed.
And the last thing that he did was to light up the fire
And he threw on every manuscript, oh what a pyre!
Then he did the same thing to the other Ghoul houses
Leaving ashes too small for the other Ghoul louses!
It was quarter past dawn… all the Ghouls still afloat
All the Ghouls still a-snooze when he packed up his boat
Packed it up with their hard drives! Their iPhones and wrappings!
Their post-it note memos! Their sketches and flappings!
Three thousand feet down, down the length of Lake Slumpit
He rowed and he rowed to the middle to dump it.
"Ha Ha to the Ghouls!" he was Steve-ishly humming
"They're finding out now that no stories will be coming!
Their mouths will hang open for a minute or two
Then the Ghouls down in Boo-ville will all cry Boo Hoo!"
"That's a noise," grinned the Steve, "that I really must hear!"
So he paused. And he put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the glow
It started in low. Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn't mad! Why this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so! But it was merry! Very!
He stared down at Boo-ville, the Steve popped his eyes
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Ghoul down in Boo-ville, the tall and the small,
Was typing! Without any stories at all!
He hadn't stopped the zombies from coming! They came!
Somehow or other, they came just the same!
And the Fox paddle stopped in the midst of a row
Steve puzzled and puzzled: "How could it be so?"
It came without outlines! Came without speech tags!
It came without realism, but, yes, yes, with great bee plagues!
And he puzzled three hours til his puzzler was sore
Then the Steve thought of something he hadn't before
"Maybe zombies," he thought, "don't just come from a bore
Maybe zombies, perhaps, are a little hardcore!"
Well, what happened then? Well, in Boo-ville they say
The Steve's in-box shrunk three sizes that day
And the minute his inbox shrunk right out of sight
The Steve sat back in his chair in the bright morning light
And he penned a form letter as black as the night
For just such a moment as this, quite right!
He penned it with venom and vitriol spite
(So hoping you'll jump from a very great height)
Yes He, He Himself, signed the grim form
Because zombies, yes zombies, are only lukewarm.